NAV CANADA introduces Intelligent Approach at Toronto Pearson

Posted on 6 June, 2022 by Advance 

NAV CANADA has become the first Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) in North America to deploy the Time-Based Separation tool, Intelligent Approach, by introducing the new air traffic control technology to cut delays and emissions at Toronto Pearson International Airport.


Toronto air traffic control centre.
Courtesy NATS

Deployed at Toronto Pearson International Airport, this new technology adds additional tactical capacity across the airport’s five runways and will help reduce delays, fuel burn and CO2 emissions, particularly in high wind conditions.

Working closely with its UK counterpart, NATS and the science and technology leader, Leidos, NAV CANADA successfully transitioned to the Intelligent Approach system on 28th May.

Intelligent Approach is a tool that helps deliver better on-time performance by optimising the spacing between arriving aircraft. Jointly developed by NATS and Leidos, the system dynamically calculates the optimum time interval between arrivals based on live weather data and the aircraft type rather than relying on set distances. It then translates that into a graphical marker on a controller’s radar screen, helping to improve spacing consistency and maintain the landing rate even in strong headwinds.

Mark Cooper, Vice President, Chief Technology and Information Officer, NAV CANADA, said: “NAV CANADA continues to collaborate with key partners, such as NATS and Leidos, to bring about the innovations to our processes and systems, such as the Intelligent Approach at Toronto Pearson, that we need to increase our operational efficiency and effectiveness.”

Intelligent Approach was first introduced at Heathrow Airport in 2015, where the use of time-based separation, as a way of maintaining the landing rate, has cut headwind related delays by 62%.

Guy Adams, NATS Strategy and Commercial Director, said: "Delivering Intelligent Approach for Toronto during a global pandemic has been an enormous team effort across NAV CANADA, NATS and Leidos.

“As the industry now begins to recover from the impact of Covid, it has never been more important for airports to make the very best of their existing infrastructure. We look forward to Intelligent Approach delivering even better on time performance and operational resilience at Canada's busiest airport.”

Graham Emmons, Vice President, Managing Director Civil UK at Leidos, said: “The collaboration on the Toronto deployment through the pandemic is testament to our partnership with NATS and the resilience of all those involved. We look forward to a successful and continued relationship with NAV CANADA.”

NATS and Leidos are also working with Dutch air traffic service provider, LVNL, to support the deployment of Intelligent Approach for Schiphol Airport.

NATS is the UK’s principal air navigation services provider and is split into two main businesses, which provide two distinct services:

NATS (En Route) plc (NERL) — the regulated business, which provides air traffic management services to aircraft within UK airspace and over the eastern part of the North Atlantic

NATS (Services) Ltd (NSL) — the unregulated business, which provides air traffic control services at many of the UK’s major airports (13 civil and seven military airfields) and other airports overseas

NATS provides aerodrome, data, engineering, capacity, efficiency and environmental performance solutions to customers worldwide, including airports, airlines, air traffic service providers and governments.    

NATS handled 661,000 flights in the UK in the last financial year (2020/21), a reduction of 73% reflecting Covid-19 travel restrictions.